Sunday, October 16, 2016

Nobody Is Too Broken for the Grace of Jesus

Nobody Is Too Broken for the Grace of Jesus

This false ideology that a human can be too broken for the all-consuming grace of our Lord and Savior is incorrect.
I meet a lot of people who say they wouldn’t be caught dead inside of a church building, that their life is too messed up to be embraced by the arms of God, and that their previous failures are too monstrous to be forgiven by the grace of Jesus.
This false ideology that a human can be too broken for the all-consuming grace of our Lord and Savior is incorrect, and I pray that more churches will open up their doors to prove it so.

Nobody is too broken for the grace of Jesus.

We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of, said things that we wish we could take back, and been places we wouldn’t dare go visit again. And while many of us have found redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus, we must remember that there are millions of other people in this world who have yet to do the same.

The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” The truth behind Paul’s words is revitalizing and scandalous—that even a man who once persecuted the church of Jesus Christ has now been redeemed and forgiven by His grace. This is revolutionary for all who hear it. The story of Paul is one we can all learn from. He is the pinnacle example of somebody who was far from God but found favor through the grace of Jesus. A second chance awaited him, and that second chance was discovered through seeking repentance, asking for forgiveness and allowing the spirit of Christ to transform him.
No matter what you’ve done in life, understand that the grace and love of Jesus is waiting for you with open arms. You don’t need to reach a certain level of “goodness” before you can pray, walk into a church or even read your Bible. God will take you where you are, but he loves you too much to leave you that way. Remember, nobody is too broken for the grace of Jesus.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” —Titus 2:11
Jarrid Wilson

Jarrid Wilson

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor and author relentlessly sharing the love of Jesus.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Perfect Spouse Will Not Complete You

The Perfect Spouse Will Not Complete You

The Perfect Spouse Will Not Complete You
Few pains hurt like the long ache of loneliness.
Few pains hurt like the long ache of loneliness. That experience can motivate singles to obsess over finding and keeping the perfect spouse. Sometimes it even drives people to end perfectly healthy relationships for fear of finding a more perfect choice somewhere.
Regardless, even the most laid back of the matrimonially available crowd must wrestle with the desire to find the absolutely perfect spouse.
The desire is understandable. Few decisions in life carry the weight of a covenantal commitment (Ephesians 5:22–33). If done correctly, your marriage will be a dominant influence on your decisions for the duration of its life—sometimes giving unsurpassed satisfaction and other times requiring gut-wrenching sacrifice. For most people, they have never come close to making such a long-term and life-altering decision before, and therefore they want to be as diligent as possible about making the right decision.
But sometimes we cross the boundary from merely trying to be a good shepherd of our hearts to actively trying to wrest control from the almighty and trustworthy God. A little bit of the original temptation plays out in our own lives (Genesis 3:1–7), Is God’s plan really sufficient? Does he really know what he’s doing? Can he really accomplish it without me?
Once we understand our motivations more clearly, we can bring them to the throne of grace more swiftly. Our hearts cannot help but be restless on this subject because it carries such weighty implications, yet our hearts can find genuine rest in the love, wisdom and might of a gracious God (John 14:27).

Assess Your Expectations

Motivations are one thing; expectations another. If you asked most people, they would affirm that there is no such thing as a perfect spouse. However, I’m betting that most of those same people would probably also affirm the “perfect-for-me” theory of spousal selection. That is the idea that there is some perfect person somewhere on the planet, and if they could just find them, the two would be perfectly happy together. Their interests, strengths and shortcomings would all blend in perfect relational harmony.
Let us disabuse ourselves of that expectation. No perfect person on this earth is waiting for you. Find me a potential spouse, and I’ll show you a sinner—because we are all sinners. And no matching or mixing of sins leads to perfect blessedness, because that’s not what sin does. Sin is selfish, deceitful and power-hungry. Marriages require us to be sacrificing, honest and willing to serve. Your spouse may complement you, but he (or she) will never complete you. That’s the job of Christ.
When I’m evaluating couples in premarital counseling, I’m looking for three components: character, chemistry and compatibility.

1. Character

Character is the domain that lets me know that two people value the same things. In order to be able to have a long-term healthy relationship the couple must be able to build up trust. As my friend and former professor Jim Hurley would say, “Trust comes from repeated acts of trustworthiness.” Consequently, I ask, do both partners have the same idea of what it means to behave in trustworthy ways?
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly room for differences of opinion in every relationship, even differences of priority—but this is about fundamental commitments and worldview. This is why Paul warns against being “unequally yoked” because it is so difficult to make a relationship work when we cannot agree what is right or wrong. As Christians, we should excel here. Our morality is not built upon our instincts but upon the unassailable word of God. We have an unshakeable foundation that clearly marks what is acceptable Christian behavior and what is not (Romans 13:8–10).

2. Chemistry

Chemistry is the domain that lets me know that two people are really attracted to each other. Common refrains in counseling. One of them is when one spouse is not attracted to the other. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common I’ve found is that people have tried to fight against the trend in society that relationships are almost exclusively about looks and lust, so they have fallen for the opposite lie, that looks don’t matter at all.
Chemistry is not just physical attraction—it’s also emotional attraction. Are these two people at ease with one another? Do they laugh together? Do they seem to look forward to seeing each other? Genuine chemistry is the platform upon which infatuation springs, and it should remain once infatuation has begun to subside.
Without chemistry, people often find themselves sharing their life with a roommate, not a spouse. The good thing about chemistry is that it can be cultivated over time. Attraction can and does grow; it can go from smoldering ash to open fire over time.

3. Compatibility

Compatibility is the domain that lets me know that two people are able to work well as a team. Character and chemistry can both be high, but if a couple doesn’t work well together as a team, the road will be long and tough. Couples are often drawn to one another based on opposite strengths. The old adage is true: “opposites attract.”
Spenders marry savers, introverts marry extroverts, black-and-white thinkers marry gray-scale thinkers—the list is nearly endless. What I’m looking for is whether or not the couple leans into these differences or fights against them. Whereas with character I’m looking for unity, with compatibility I’m looking for diversity. Diversity can be an incredible area of strength, but only if the couple has the wherewithal to appreciate each other’s competence while working on their own incompetence.
We should be diligent about making sure we are well-coupled before heading down the wedding aisle. We should understand our motivations, we should set biblically informed standards and expectations, and we should use careful discernment. But our hope is not in finding the perfect spouse, but in resting in the perfect Savior. It is not my marriage that will complete me, but Christ.  

Josh Squires

Josh Squires (@jsquires12) has degrees in counseling and divinity. He currently serves as the pastor of counseling and congregational care at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC where he lives with his wife Melanie and their 4 children.

Why We Must Not Quit When God’s People Mistreat Us

Why We Must Not Quit When God’s People Mistreat Us

Why We Must Not Quit When God’s People Mistreat Us
“No one should ever quit Jesus when God’s people mistreat him.”
“Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
We hear of it too frequently.
“He used to be a pastor. But the people in the churches were so mean—undercutting him, criticizing, backbiting, slandering and then kicking him out—that it ruined him forever. He vows he’ll never enter a church again.”
“If this is how God’s churches are, I want nothing to do with any of them.”
“Makes me wonder if the Lord even cares.”
The variations on that sad theme are endless.
But the result, while tragic, is needless: Some of these “wounded warriors” have given up on the Lord and His church.
No one should ever quit Jesus when God’s people mistreat him.
The Lord told us to expect this. “The servant is not above his master. The pupil is not above his teacher. If they called the Master a devil, how much more should His disciples expect it.” (See Matthew 10.)
The Lord was crucified by the religious people, convinced they were doing God’s work.
OK, perhaps not all were convinced they were doing the Lord’s work. But many were.
What would knock you out of the game?
So what would it take, we ask the Christian workers in the audience, for you to walk away from the Lord’s work and cause you to turn your back on Him?
How badly would they have to treat you to make you give up on Jesus?
That is not theoretical nor is the question rhetorical. It’s a real issue, one each of us should face and answer.
I have heard of people who were mistreated by a sibling and who, as a result, wrote off the entire family. One man told me, “He won’t even call our parents. They long to hear from this son of theirs, but he acts as if they don’t exist.”
My parents had six children. While our parents were living, I would make this point: Even if one of my three brothers or two sisters did something to end our contact, there is nothing a sibling can do that would make me quit loving my parents and going to see them.
So, how is it that someone mistreated by a church can walk away from the Lord Jesus?
Someone says, “I’m not leaving the Lord, just His church.”
Same difference, my friend.
Show me anyone in Scripture who managed to separate Jesus from His Body.
He said numerous times, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (See John 14 and 15.)
To love Jesus does not mean getting all goose-bumpy about Him, but obeying Him.
Obedience: That’s the Lord’s love language.
In the book of Job, God and Satan were discussing this very issue, what it would take for a champion of the Lord to desert Him. “Job is faithful to you because you take such good care of him,” the devil said to the Almighty.
The loss of everything dear to Job would do the trick, said Satan. “Take it all away and he will curse you to your face.” When that was proven not to be the case, Satan said, “Let him think he’s losing his life.” Nothing dearer to people than their lives, right? (See chapters 1-2 of Job. But don’t miss chapter 42.)
In all this, Job did not sin, we read.
Job was a keeper. “Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” he said.
That’s the kind of faithfulness that honors God, blesses people and will shine like diamonds for eternity.
What would it take for you to stop going to church, quit reading your Bible and put a stop to your prayers?
It doesn’t take much for some of us.
It didn’t take much for some people.
A little opposition, a little harassment, some betrayals, and one would think we were going through the holocaust. “Why me, Lord?”
God’s people need to grow up and quit their belly-aching.
God’s preachers need to lose their Pollyanna expectation that serving Jesus was meant to be easy, churches are always going to do the right thing, denominations are the great security blanket, and if God loved you, He would give you what you pray for every time.
At the end of their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas decided to retrace their steps and return to the Christians they’d birthed and the churches they had started. “Let’s encourage them in the Lord,” they said. “And let’s tell them that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom.” (See Acts 14.)
“Much tribulation.” Expect it.
The problem for most is that we expect it from the world, but not from within the house of God.
The crowd that welcomed Jesus into the city on Sunday with cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” must have been largely the same bunch calling out “Crucify Him!” by the end of the week.
In Paul’s first missionary journey, the citizens of a town were so impressed by the miracle of healing he performed, they were ready to worship him and Barnabas as gods. Shortly thereafter, when troublemakers arrived to slander the apostle, the crowd turned to stone him.
We would do well to keep our faith in Jesus but not in the Lord’s people. They are His flock and our assignment. They are His children and our field of service. We must not look to them for affirmation, validation or a proof of our authenticity. When they show appreciation and respond well to our ministry, well and good. But when they do not, we must not conclude the Lord has betrayed us.
And so, to the victim of mistreatment at the hands of the Lord’s people, we offer this small counsel:
—If you are as human as the rest of us, you were not entirely blameless in the work which ended so badly. The person who blames everyone else for his woes without taking any of the responsibility for any portion of it himself is probably into denial. Don’t let that happen to you.
—Keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus. He is both the Author and Finisher of your salvation. Which is to say, He started it and He will end it—in His own time and way. So, keep trusting Him.
—If no church will consider you now after the way the last congregation dismissed you, start a ministry. Perhaps the Lord wants you to birth a church in your living room, or to minister at the jail or in hospitals as a chaplain. No one on earth can keep you from ministering in the name of Jesus, even if they are able to prevent you from getting a paid position with an established church.
—Many a pastor has found freedom in being bi-vocational—that is, having a full-time job during the week that pays the bills while pastoring a church at night and on weekends. In most cases, these churches are smaller than the larger, more impressive congregations. But not always. Even so, you would do well to get over having to have a full-time, paid position. Look for ways to carry out the calling God has given you.
Paul told Timothy to “fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
—Pray God will help you to get past the mistreatment at the hands of His people. No church is going to want an angry pastor. No search committee wants a preacher who is still licking his wounds from the last place he served. They’re looking for a healthy, loving pastor, and rightly so.
—Ask the Lord to use this suffering in your life to bring about good things. He specializes in that very thing.
—You are finally learning what it means to share the sufferings of Jesus. Do not miss this privilege, one not given to everyone. Let your sufferings be an offering of love to the One who redeemed you from sin and called you into His service. (See Philippians 3:10.)
We must not quit. We have been given an incredible promise. “Be thou faithful unto death,” Jesus said, “and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Two reasons not to quit
Here’s how Paul put it. “Therefore, since we have received this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (or quit). God has shown us mercy. God has called us into His ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1).
Mercy and ministry. He’s been so good to you, not dealing with you according to your sins and not rewarding you according to your iniquities (Psalm 103:10).  That’s His mercy. And having called you into His service, He gave you spiritual gifts to enable you to do the work. That’s your ministry.
You will stand before Him some day and give account. You want to go with confidence and not shame. So, claim this promise from 2 Corinthians 4:16-17: “Therefore we do not lose heart (and quit). For even though our outer man is decaying, yet the inner man is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is working for us an exceeding weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.”
It will be worth it all, friend. As Paul said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
So many reasons not to become a statistic, preacher. But the best one is simply: You love Jesus.
You. Love. Jesus.  

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life
“If you trust God, renounce self-reliance, and bring him into every life situation, he is going to make your paths straight.”
A few years back, John Piper recorded a series of video devotionals for the YouVersion Bible app. One of those devotions that came out of the recording was on Proverbs 3, verses five and six. What Pastor John delivered is what we are calling: Three Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life. Here’s what he said.
Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” That verse probably is the one that my mother quoted most often in writing me when I was in college and graduate school. Without even writing it out, she would include Proverbs 3:5–6. And I think it is because the main aim of the verse is to walk in a straight path.
That means, she didn’t want me and I don’t want you and God doesn’t want us to veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor him. That is the goal. He will make your paths straight: straight to obedience, straight to everlasting joy, straight to a God-honoring life. And he says there are three steps to get there, right?
1) First, trust in the Lord with all your heart. So, bank on the promises of God step by step in your life. Make your life a moment-by-moment trusting in a good, holy, kind, loving, all-providing, all-satisfying God.
2) And then, step two, he says: Don’t rely on your own understanding, which I think means a conscious choice not to be self-reliant. Just say to yourself: Self, you are inadequate. Brain, you can’t come up with enough wisdom on your own. You have to turn away from self-reliance. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t think and you don’t plan. It just means that you don’t bank on it. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). So, even in the midst of our planning and thinking and using our minds, we are leaning on something else. We are not leaning on our own resources.
3) And then the third one is: In all your ways acknowledge him—the Hebrew says, in all your ways know him. So, at every turn, every new choice you have to make, every new conversation you are in, you are sending up a message: God, I acknowledge you here. I know you here. I am drawing you in here. You are decisive here. I need you here. And if we follow those: trust him, renounce self-reliance, bring him into every situation, he is going to make our paths straight. He is going to keep us from wasting our lives or destroying ourselves and others in the path of sin and bringing us to everlasting joy.  
John Piper

John Piper

John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at © Desiring God.

How to Rejoice Under Dark, Dark Clouds

How to Rejoice Under Dark, Dark Clouds

How to Rejoice Under Dark, Dark Clouds
“Remember, the sun is always shining above the clouds, and the steadfast love of our God will never cease.”
Puritan writer Matthew Henry was once robbed by thieves and recorded in his journal:
“Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not someone else.”
How could Matthew Henry rejoice after being hijacked? Because he didn’t derive his joy from his circumstances, but took joy in the God of his salvation.
Paul and Silas freed a slave girl from a spirit of divination that had afflicted her for a long time. Deprived of their cash cow, her owners dragged Paul and Silas before the local magistrates and riled up a mob who proceeded to give Paul and Silas a fine Philippian pounding. Then they tossed them into prison, in the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:22-25).
Paul and Silas are chained up in a filthy Philippian prison and they’re singing!
I have never been stripped, beaten, thrown into prison or fastened in stocks. But if I were, I don’t know if my first inclination would be to sing “I Just Want to Thank You.” That’s not usually the first thought that comes to my mind when my car starts to make a grinding sound or my wife asks if we can talk about something (and I can tell it’s the kind of “talk” that’s going to take a while).
The reason Paul and Silas could worship in the blockhouse was because they didn’t derive their joy from their circumstances, but took joy in the God of their salvation.
For believers in Christ, the source of our joy is Jesus himself. He’s our fountain of life, our chosen portion, our beautiful inheritance. He’s our meat and drink. And he never changes, no matter how much our circumstances fluctuate. I once flew from Pittsburgh to Toronto. It was overcast and snowing in Pittsburgh, but when the plane rose above the clouds, the sun was blazing in all its glory. When we descended in Toronto it was grey and snowing again. I had a flash of revelation (that’s right folks, it had never dawned on me until that very moment): The sun is always shining above the clouds. And like the sun, God is always blazing with goodness and kindness and power and love for us, no matter what our circumstances “down here” are like. He hasn’t changed any more than the sun changes when it’s raining. As it says in Lamentations 3:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (21-23)
I’m not saying that believers in Jesus should never weep or grieve. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says that we grieve when fellow believers die. Yet in our grief, we have hope that we will see them again. Yet we grieve. We weep when our children suffer. Sometimes we grieve when we suffer unjustly because of the sins of others. Believers suffer loss, get sick and go through many different kinds of pain. Jesus himself cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in great agony of spirit on the cross (MT 27.46). But in every circumstance and in the depths of our pain we can still give God praise and thanks for his love has not ceased for us. His mercies have not come to an end. He is still faithful to us, despite the fact that we may not sense it at the moment. He is still shining above the clouds in our lives, though they be dark and terrible. And someday we will see how he was loving and faithful to us in those moments. Someday he will personally wipe away every tear from our eyes.
If you have not yet called upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins and give you eternal life, I urge you to do so right now. For those of us who do know Jesus, be glad and sing praises, like Matthew Henry or Paul and Silas, no matter what’s happening “down here” in our lives. Remember, the sun is always shining above the clouds, and the steadfast love of our God will never cease.  
Mark Altrogge

Mark Altrogge

Mark Altrogge is the original triple threat: singer, songwriter, pastor. He has been the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. When not pastoring or writing songs, Mark can be found consuming vast quantities of coffee. Unfortunately, Mark is not particularly gifted in the area of athletics.

God Used Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” to Rescue Michael Phelps From Suicide

God Used Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” to Rescue Michael Phelps From Suicide

michael phelps
After winning eight gold medals in Beijing, Phelps says he “despised the image of perfection his success had created.”
If there’s one thing the Olympics can teach us, it’s that hard work and perseverance can pay off. If there’s one thing it can’t teach us, though, it’s how to measure your life. Surely if you’ve won an Olympic medal, you would feel accomplished, right? Surely if you’ve won as many as Michael Phelps you could feasibly ride that feeling of accomplishment the rest of your life.
However, this was not the case for Phelps. Even after winning eight gold medals in Beijing, “Phelps says he despised the image of perfection his success had created.”
In an interview with SportsCenter, Phelps explains, “I was just a train wreck. I was just a time bomb waiting to go off. No self esteem, no self worth.” How does the most successful swimmer in history have a self-esteem problem?
Phelps had stumbled on to a truth many Christians know: Our sense of worth and purpose was never meant to lie in our own accomplishments or the praises of other people.
The breaking point came in 2014 when Phelps was pulled over for speeding in his hometown of Baltimore. Additionally, he was arrested and charged with his second DUI in 10 years. He spent the next five days secluded in his home. Phelps explains he even contemplated suicide: “For a moment I thought it was going to be the end of my life. Literally….Yeah, it’ll probably just be better without me. People won’t have to deal with the BS I give them or the crap I put them through…I just figured the best thing to do was to end my life.”
Enter Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and friend of Phelps. Lewis helped to pull Phelps off the floor so to speak. Pulling back into his own “dark” past experiences, Lewis helped Phelps to see there was hope to turn around. Lewis and other friends convinced Phelps to seek help at The Meadows, a rehabilitation center outside of Phoenix. “I was just surrendering,” Phelps explained.
Lewis also gave Phelps a copy of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Phelps explained the book helped by turning him “into believing there is a power greater than myself and purpose for me on this planet.” The book contained the message Phelps needed to hear: It’s not about accomplishments, it’s not about praise. Life is about God and our need for him.
Phelps’s revelation sounds similar to Shawn Johnson’s—the gymnastics darling of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. After incredible success in Beijing, Johnson felt the same way: Not even an Olympic medal can mask the feeling of worthlessness that comes from not knowing God.
It’s exciting to watch these world-class athletes compete in Rio, but it’s also important to remember that any accomplishment in this world, apart from Christ, will always leave us empty and searching. Why not leverage the story of Michael Phelps to make a relevant teaching illustration this week?
You can watch the full story on Phelps and his turn around in the following video.

Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs is a content editor and passionate follower of Christ. Two things – she believes – that should be linked together more often. Her experience in ministry to youth and parents as well as the extensive amount of time she’s spent in ministry overseas gives her a unique perspective on the global church. Megan is passionate about spreading the gospel and equipping the church for holiness. When she’s not writing or proofreading, Megan likes to run.

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

God Will Give You More than You Can Handle
“In this life, God will give you more than you can handle, but the coming weight of glory will be greater than you can imagine.”
Christians can make the strangest claims when comforting those who are suffering. What do you say to someone whose life is falling apart? If you have but few precious minutes with a person who’s lost a job, home, spouse, child or all sense of purpose, what comfort do you give?
We might turn to conventional wisdom instead of Scripture and end up saying something like, “Don’t worry, this wouldn’t happen in your life if God didn’t think you could bear it.” The sufferer may object, head shaking and hands up. But you insist, “Look, seriously, the Bible promises God won’t ever give you more in life than you can handle.” There it is—conventional wisdom masquerading as biblical truth. You’ve promised what the Bible never does.

Temptations Versus Trials

In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” His discussion is specific: He’s writing about “temptation,” a snare that breaks a sweat trying to drag us into sin. Using a predator metaphor, God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:7). Sin stalks us, but God is faithful. Sin desires to overcome us, but there is a merciful way of escape. Sin sets the bait, but for the believer—praise God!—sin is not irresistible.
Now if people apply Paul’s words about temptation to general sufferings, you can see where the line “God will never give you more than you can handle” comes from. I don’t doubt the sincerity and good intentions of those who use this phrase, but sincerity isn’t enough. Even Job’s friends meant well.

The Twin Errors

There are at least two errors in the unbiblical notion of “God will never give you more than you can handle.” First, it plays on the cultural virtue of fairness. Second, it points the sufferer inward instead of Godward.
1. Trials That Are…Fair?
If you give your children boxes to load into the car, you make visual and weight assessments that factor in their ages and strength. You don’t overload their arms and watch them crash to the ground with stuff splayed everywhere. That would be unfair. The saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” strikes a tone of fairness we instinctually like. There’s something pleasing about the idea that the scales are in balance, that God has assessed what we can handle and permits trials accordingly.
But there is a glaring problem with the “fairness” that undergirds this conventional wisdom: God has been unfair already, because he has not dealt with us as our sins deserve. He has been longsuffering, forbearing, gracious and abounding in love. The sun shines and rain falls even on the unjust (Matt. 5:45). God transcends the categories of fair and unfair to such a degree that we have no position to evaluate his actions or weigh his will. His ways aren’t subject to our culture’s standard of fairness.
2. The Power…Within?
Suffering doesn’t ask if you’re ready. It may come slowly or with a vengeance, but it doesn’t ask permission, and it doesn’t care about convenience. There’s never a good time for your life to be wrecked. But the saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” tells me I have what it takes. It tells me I can bear whatever comes my way. It tells me God permits trials according to my ability to endure. Think about what this conventional wisdom does: It points people inward.
Yet the Bible points us Godward. As the psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Ps. 46:1–3). When our strength is failing under crushing burdens, the answer is not within. God gives power to the faint and increases the strength of the weak (Isa. 40:29). The power comes from him to those who wait on him.

Where Trials Direct Us

Trials come in all shapes and sizes, but they don’t come to show how much we can take or how we have it all together. Overwhelming suffering will come our way because we live in a broken world with broken people. And when it comes, let’s be clear ahead of time that we don’t have what it takes. God will give us more than we can handle—but not more than he can.
The psalmist asks, “Where does my help come from?” (Ps. 121:1), and we must be able to answer like he did. We must know and believe, deep in our bones, that “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (121:2). When trials come, trust that the Lord’s help will come. This news is helpful to sufferers since we’re saying something true about God instead of something false about ourselves.
Paul recalled a time when God gave him more than he could bear. In a letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 1:8). Paul and his associates had been in circumstances that transcended their strength to endure: “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death” (1:9).
Then he provides a crucial insight into his despair. Why were he and his companions given more than they could handle? To “make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9). God will give you more than you can handle so that his great power might be displayed in your life. Indeed, a greater weight of glory is still to come: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
You might not consider overwhelming sufferings to be “light” and “momentary,” but think of your trials in terms of a trillion years from now. In the middle of affliction, sometimes the most difficult thing to hold onto is an eternal vision. Paul isn’t trying to minimize your affliction; he’s trying to maximize your perspective.
Suffering doesn’t get the last line in the script. In this life, God will give you more than you can handle, but the coming weight of glory will be greater than you can imagine.

Mitch Chase

Mitch Chase (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the preaching pastor at Kosmosdale Baptist Church and an adjunct professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s the author of Behold Our Sovereign God (Lucid Books, 2012). You can follow him on Twitter.

Is Your Passion for Ministry Fading?

Is Your Passion for Ministry Fading?

Is Your Passion for Ministry Fading?
“Just like a campfire, your passion will dwindle without new fuel and intentional cultivation.”
Think of your first opportunity in ministry. You were fired-up, enthusiastic and ready to take on the world! We all start that way or close to it! After all, you said yes! Right?! You said yes to God, and yes to a leader who invited you on the team. Even if you were a little nervous or unsure, you were in!
Even with a great start it’s surprisingly easy for your passion for ministry to fade. It can become common place, and routine. It’s not uncommon for a leader to slide into a comfortable zone and not realize it. This often leads to status quo and complacency. In time, this skews your perspective, and eventually your heart is no longer on fire to serve!
Long ago we used to say, “Fan the flame of your calling.” Those are old fashioned words, but the meaning is still substantial. If you don’t tend to the fire, it will go out. That’s just a fact of leadership and ministry life. Just like a campfire will soon go to embers, fade and go out, your passion will dwindle without new fuel and intentional cultivation.

4 Practices to Keep Your Passion High: 

1) Remember your conversion.

You were not saved by works, but you were saved to do good works.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10
Your call to serve and lead can never be separated from your conversion. Your salvation through Christ is the foundation of your call to ministry. If your faith is shaky or becoming “same old same old,” your call can turn to mechanical duty. It can become a routine where you merely go through the motions. This leaves you dangerously close to operating on your own talent, rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.
Regularly reflect on your experience of conversion. Thank God for that grace. Soak in that truth and the amazing love of Christ; just two minutes is all it takes. What He did for you provides fuel to share that grace with others.

2) Be clear on your calling.

It’s important to know if your call to serve in ministry is part of your Christian life as a volunteer leader, or if it is to full-time vocational service. You may do nearly the exact same function, for example, teaching, but the context is very different. If your professional work life is where you live out your faith, and you volunteer at your church, that’s one kind of call. If you are paid to lead full-time in a local church, that’s a different calling from God.
These two are very connected, and there is overlap, but I’ve known too many men and women who push against what God had in mind. There are some who fight “the call” and resist vocational ministry, and others who force it when God wants them in the marketplace.
Until this is clearly settled, you will lack the inner peace and rest in your soul that is needed to keep your passion burning bright for ministry.

3) Love what you do.

When you love what you do, three things are added to you and your ministry that contribute to passion.
• Energy – You will always have energy for what you love. If you love your work, you’ll care about it, and when you care, that generates personal energy. We often call that internal motivation. It’s a fire that burns within!
• Joy – When you love your work and your energy is strong, a sense of joy pervades! This doesn’t mean every day is an easy day, but the practical translation is that even on the tough days, it’s worth it! This makes the majority of your work fun and you truly can enjoy it. This continually re-ignites your passion.
• Improvement – It’s absolutely vital to keep growing while you keep going. The goal is to get better at what you do. My son John-Peter is a software developer at Georgia Tech Research Institute. He’s also working on his Master’s in Computer Science at Georgia Tech. He’s getting better at what he does! How about you? How are you improving? Improvement increases passion!

4) Love the people you serve with.

It isn’t always easy to love the people you serve with, but it’s infinitely easier if you choose to love them!
Whether you serve as a volunteer or on staff full-time, here are three practical guidelines to a caring connection with your team.
• Close to a few – You were never designed to be close buddies with everyone on the team. Human chemistry doesn’t work that way. But there should be one or two people, or perhaps even three or four, that you share a special bond and close relationship with.
• Connect with all – If you are part of a large staff, or part of a group of volunteer leaders, it’s healthy to experience an easy and comfortable connection with everyone. It’s more casual than close, but there is a sense of team, and you enjoy each other even if the interactions are brief. You feel like you are all “in this” together.
• Conflict with no one – Since there will be conflict even on the healthiest and most successful of teams, the key here is none unresolved. If there is a rift between you and a teammate, take the initiative to make it right. Don’t let it sit and fester and become a poison in the team chemistry. Have the conversation today.
These three simple guidelines will help you love genuinely, which always leads to greater passion for your ministry!  

Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety

Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety

“Having friends and loved ones who are OK with all of this stuff is priceless.”
This article originally appeared here, on Tim Challies’ website. 
For seven years I have lived with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety. It has completely changed my life. I have written and drawn about these things before and the response has proven to me that there are tons of Christians who relate to my story. This probably includes people you know. I also know that many are hesitant to tell others about their struggles. So for them, based on my experience, I compiled a little list of things you should know about your Christian friends and family who struggle with anxiety.
It changes us.
Before I had these issues I was an outgoing, type-A extrovert. I fed off social situations and loved being the center of attention. Today I’m a serious introvert who struggles mightily with social situations, unfamiliar settings, having any attention on me, meeting new people, talking on the phone or even writing an article like this one. More often than not, I just can’t do it. I’ve been unable to leave my house for stretches of time. I’ve almost crashed my car while having a panic attack. I hate going to the doctor or the barber shop. I can’t do small groups with people I don’t know. I’ve tried so, so hard to go to conferences (I wanted to go to T4G so bad this year!), but I’ve never been able to go through with it. I’m a mess, really.
It’s not a Matthew 6 or Philippians 4 issue—it’s a physiological issue.
Pre-anxiety-me would probably have scoffed at this. But having an anxiety disorder is not the same thing as being a worrywart. Most people with anxiety don’t go to the doctor and say, “I dunno doc, I can’t stop worrying about stuff.” Most of us go to the doctor with troubling physical symptoms, and only then do we learn that anxiety is the cause. In my case, I went to the doctor thinking I was having a stroke or some major brain issue. In reality, I was having my first panic attack. When the doctor told me it was anxiety I thought he was crazy or that he was not taking me seriously. I was convinced I was experiencing medical trauma! My entire central nervous system was telling me so. And then this guy tells me I have anxiety. It was surreal. I’ve had tons of people tell me that this is their story as well. This is not the same type of anxiety that manifests mainly as nagging worry. We have a mental disorder, not a control problem.
We know it doesn’t make any sense.
It doesn’t make sense to you—or us, most of the time. It’s called a disorder because it is a disorder—our brains are malfunctioning. We know our thoughts are illogical. We know there is no good reason for our adrenaline to be pumping like we’re running from a T-Rex. We know it’s just the anxiety messing with us. But knowing that doesn’t help a single bit.
Having anxiety doesn’t make us overly concerned about things as much as it makes our brains short-circuit as a feeling of certain impending doom envelops us. Being in an anxiety pit is a feeling that can’t be explained, and in bad times it’s a feeling that’s with us from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep. It’s our life.
The feeling of doom is very real to us. As real as anything else.
You can tell us everything is OK, and sometimes we know it’s true. But the monster of anxiety will still assure us, louder than anything else, that everything is wrong, nothing is right, every bad thing that could possibly happen is certainly going to happen and there’s simply no other alternative. We are convinced we’ve ruined everything we’ve ever touched, worked on or looked at. It’s so real, and in our state of panic, it feels more real than anything else. Have you ever been in a temporary state of seriously elevated anxiety? That feeling that your heart is in your throat and your stomach has dropped through the ground—it’s that real to us. It’s panic. When panic hits us, it takes over, and invokes an immediate and overwhelming need for escape. We have to live with it.
We’re exhausted all the time.
Think back to a very high-stress situation you’ve been in, when your fight-or-flight response took over. Adrenaline flowing, heart pounding, vision altered. You probably collapsed into your bed shortly thereafter, your body depleted from expending all of its energy reserves. That’s our life when we’re going through a bad anxiety spell. It’s utterly draining to get through even a non-eventful day. Many days we’re ready for bed by lunchtime. Our brains are clouded. We’re experiencing derealization. We can’t think straight. We can’t process information. We can’t focus. We can’t remember things. We’re sorry for sometimes being grumpy or irritable because of this.
Please know we’re not just blowing you off.
We know it seems like we are, but we’re not. We’re sorry for canceling plans. We’re sorry for declining invitations. We’re sorry for leaving early. We’re sorry for not following up. It’s not you, it’s us. It’s our anxiety. Upcoming events, even minor ones, can foster a serious sense of dread for people with anxiety disorders. Sometimes the only way to relieve the pressure so we can get back to living is to eliminate the source. We live in constant fear of anxiety triggers and snowballs. And need to be alone much more than most people. Social situations quickly exhaust us, and we re-energize with solitude. It’s not that we don’t like you.
Having friends and loved ones who are OK with all of this stuff is priceless.
To have those few beloved friends who know we have anxiety and know it makes us act weird, but they’re cool with it and they still love us and pray for us and let us deal with it the best we know how—this is such a blessing from God.
All we can do is be honest with you.
If someone tells you that they have an anxiety disorder, they’re being brave. If someone cancels plans with you and openly tells you it’s because their anxiety is through the roof right now, they’re choosing to tell the truth and be vulnerable with you, instead of trying to save face by telling a half-truth or looking for a scapegoat. The best we can do is be open and honest about our struggles with anxiety. And if we do that, we’re doing well.
The gospel is everything to us.
We live a life in which our feelings actively try to kill us. It’s a strange existence. We know better than most that feelings can be filthy, stinking liars. While subjective feelings try to do us in, the objective truth of the gospel is what sustains us. It’s our life raft.
The fact that God chose us before the foundation of the world, sent His Son to die on a cross for us, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins, granting us eternal life in perfect bliss with Him in heaven—this is what sustains us through many dark times. I don’t know how I could go on without this truth sustaining me. This is the anchor of our soul: That our status before God is secure because it’s not dependent on our turbulent feelings, it’s dependent on the finished work of Christ, and when God looks at us, even when we’re being smothered by a wet anxiety blanket, he sees a beloved child, perfectly clothed in the full righteousness of Jesus Christ.
When you know we’re struggling, send us a little reminder of the beautiful truth of the gospel. It might be a blessing bigger than you know. Tell us what Christ has done. Tell us “it is finished.” Tell us what He accomplished on our behalf. But please, don’t call—a text or email will do just fine. 🙂  

Knowing God—What Kind of Knowing?

Knowing God—What Kind of Knowing?

Knowing God—What Kind of Knowing?
“…the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” —Philippians 3:8
“…the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” —Philippians 3:8
We use the word “know” in many different ways. For instance, someone might ask you if you know Jerry? With this question, you are being asked if you have been introduced to that particular person and thereby have a knowledge of identity. Another use can be imagined if your pastor uses the word “eschatological” in his sermon and you have recently attended a class where he provided an extensive understanding of what that word means. This gives you a knowledge of information. A third use is illustrated by your overhearing a conversation in Spanish and you took a few classes and you actually paid attention and worked at it. As a result of putting the language to use, you are able to understand what they are saying. This is about having a knowledge of practice.
When we hear Paul talking about the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” we must ask what kind of knowledge he is talking about. Is he talking about knowing the identity of Jesus? Was he referring to information about Jesus? Was his meaning about having a knowledge based on the practice of the faith?
The answer to each question is both yes and no. Knowing Jesus of course referred to knowledge of his identity, of specific information and of an understanding formed by specific practices. However, the knowing Paul wrote about here went beyond this. This is the kind of knowing that we might refer to as knowledge of union. This kind of knowledge is personal because it affects us at the core of our being. We can experience this kind of union in a variety of ways. For instance, when asking my grandmother how to make one of her dishes, she would say something like, “Well you turn on the oven to medium heat. Then you add mix a bunch of flower with some milk, a bit of water, add a few shakes of salt…” At that point, it became clear that there was no way that someone could do what she did in the kitchen. She was not working from a technical knowledge of the information about cooking. She was working from a knowledge of cooking that had shaped who she was.
Information builds upon identity, as we cannot know something that we are not acquainted with. Practice builds upon information. My grandmother did not arrive at that point of knowledge of cooking without practice. However, knowledge of union takes us beyond all three, as illustrated.
Or think of it this way: Someone who grew up on a farm, went off to school to study the science of farming and then managed a farm for thirty years has been shaped by the vocation of farming. He knows farming. While he might have plenty of knowledge of information about farming, that information is not the ultimate goal. The end goal is the kind of knowledge that arises out of the experience of working on the farm.
While the knowledge of identity, of information and of practices are important, if we stop there, we keep that which we are trying to know at arm’s length. It remains objective information that we can dissect and analyze. When we apply this to God, it becomes the kind of knowledge where we try to figure out how we can get what we want from God. If I believe the right facts, then I will go to heaven when I die. If I can only learn the right information, then my life with change. If I can start obeying God in the right ways, then I’ll be faithful. If I pray the right way, then I will find God’s favor. But this kind of knowledge leaves us in control.
Knowledge of union is the kind of knowledge that we cannot control. If I want to learn how to cook like my grandmother cooked, I have to move beyond my need to control and let the otherness of cooking get inside of me. The same could be said about almost anything we want to know. And it’s even more true of God. If I want to know God, it requires that I let the Otherness of God be Other than I am, that is, something that I cannot control or manipulate for my own benefit. It requires that I let the Otherness of God draw me into mystery, into adventure and into intimacy. It’s not the kind of knowledge that we make happen. It’s the kind of knowledge that we discover along a journey.
Scott Boren

Scott Boren

M. Scott Boren is a Teaching Pastor at Woodland Hills Church in Saint Paul, MN and consultant who partners with The Missional Network ( He has written and co-written eight books, including Introducing the Missional Church, Missional Small Groups and MissioRelate. He share life with his bride, Shawna, and their four children, all under the age of eight. He can be reached at his website:

Put Your Mask on First

Put Your Mask on First

Put Your Mask on First
“What is one thing you would need to change in order to live a healthier life?”
If you’ve spent any time flying commercially, you’ve most likely memorized the flight attendants instructions prior to take off.
Perhaps this will sound familiar:
Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
Years ago I was listening (I usually tune these announcements out—sorry) and one line jumped out at me.
If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.
I was instantly reminded of an important leadership principle. This is probably something you already know, but it’s always good to be reminded.
Leader, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t continue to lead at the level needed to help your team be successful. You certainly can’t lead a team to be healthy if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle. The healthier you are—physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally—the more health you can bring to the team.
Just like on the airplane, you can’t help your team if you are having trouble breathing on your own.
Be honest.
What is one thing you would need to change in order to live a healthier life?
Grab your mask—get some needed oxygen—get the help you need, whatever it is, so you can lead at your best again.
Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Everyone Can See the Log Hanging Out of Your Eye. Why Can’t You?

Everyone Can See the Log Hanging Out of Your Eye. Why Can’t You?

Everyone Can See the Log Hanging Out of Your Eye. Why Can't You?
“The log has been around for so long that we assume it’s just how we are made.”
It’s hard to miss Jesus’ point in the Sermon on the Mount. The imagery is just too clear.
“Look at the birds and the flowers, I take care of them and I’ll take care of you also.”
“Don’t hide your light under a basket. It’s useless there.”
“Invest in things of eternal value. Things on this earth will just fall apart or get stolen anyway.”
And then this one:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do you not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5 ESV)
The contrast is compelling, almost comical, and the implications are straightforward. Before you judge the actions of another person, address your own sins, which may be far greater in comparison. This passage, and others like it, are often misread to imply that we should not point out the sins of others. That’s not Jesus’ point. Christian love requires that we call one another to holiness. But before we can do that with a tone of grace, a posture of kindness and a motive of restoration, we must first consider our sins and seek, by God’s grace, to turn from them. We’ve got to take out our log before we can point out another’s speck.
But here’s the problem—at least in my own life. The log is so hard to see. It doesn’t seem to make sense considering the image Jesus uses. No one should miss a log hanging out of their eye, much less be able to notice the meager speck in someone else’s. But we do it all the time. Why? Why is the log of my own sin so hard to see?
On one level, the answer is pride. At the root of my sinful actions lies a prideful heart that is unwilling to acknowledge and turn from my sin. True enough. Since Augustine, pride has rightly been seen as the ground of all sin, the well from which all sorts of sinful actions are drawn. Yet, pride is a somewhat nebulous concept, an easy target to place blame and a challenging enemy to address. Bubbling up from my pride are a number of concrete factors that shape my inability to see, and remove, the logs of my own sin.unrecognized, growth of a log over time blinds us to its existence. Like a scar, we just get used to it being there. Someone else might immediately recognize the blight, but to us, it’s just a part of who we are.
The log might begin as a dry wit that masks deep insecurity during a person’s middle school years. Over time, this dry wit morphs into biting sarcasm that eviscerates other people in loveless hostility. Or, the log might begin as a feeble lie meant to make yourself look better than you actually are. Rather than addressing the subtle speck, in time, the log grows to the point that you’ve become a mere caricature of the good Christian who’s all style and no substance.

The Log Is Excused as Part of Your Personality

As a result, we are prone to conflate our sinful actions with our natural predispositions or inborn personality traits. The log has been around for so long that we assume it’s just how we are made.
Take the sin of worry for example. If I allow the sin of worry to fester in my heart as a teenager, then the log will continue to grow. Over time, I’ll get used to the log and fail to notice that it’s there at all. Then, when I do notice it—most likely when someone else points it out—I’ll excuse it away as just part of who I am.
“Well, I’ve just got an anxious personality,” I might say. Or, “I’m just the kind of person who speaks my mind” rather than “I’ve got a sin issue with controlling my tongue.” Such excuses more deeply embed the logs we are meant to extract.

We’ve Tried to Remove the Log Before and Failed

The best time to remove the log is when it first starts growing before you get comfortable with its existence. Some try—they see the sin for what it is and seek to extract it. But they fail.
It’s much like the process of removing a splinter. You get out the needle and the tweezers and go to work—but it hurts, the splinter is deep, so you give up. Intuitively you know that an ingrown splinter will lead to greater pain in the future, but for now, you’d rather not endure the pain.
Anytime you are reminded of the splinter, you remember the pain of the last time you tried to remove it and quit before you even begin. Then, if you ever go to remove the splinter in the future, you find an infection that makes it painful to even touch the skin around the splinter. Now, any hope of removing the culprit will come with great pain.

The Log Is Socially Acceptable

So the logs remain, glaringly obvious to others but hidden from our eyes. To others, our speck looks like a log, and to us, their speck looks like a log, so few are actually seeing logs for what they are.
This problem is compounded by the cumulative effect of logs in a culture. If enough people fail to remove their logs, and their logs look a lot alike, over time certain logs become the cultural norm. Everyone has one. Like flannel shirts and skinny jeans, if enough people have them then no one is willing to call attention to how funny we all look with logs hanging out of our eyes. Logs of materialism or sexuality are difficult to address if everyone else is walking around with the same log protruding from their eyes as well.

We Kind of Like the Log

All of these factors build up a head of steam in our lives. We’ve had the log for many years. We begin to assume it’s just part of who we are. We think we can’t get it out if we tried. And, we start to spend our time with a bunch of log-eyed people.
In time, we find that we start to like the log. We begin to think we should just embrace it—after all, we couldn’t get it out if we wanted to. So, masked behind the foolish cliché of “just be yourself” we begin to flaunt the log in our eye. We wear it as a badge of honor and foolishly call “what is evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20).
This process, over time, makes the simple command of Christ one of the most difficult to practice. It produces a horde of log-eyed people who simply can’t see their log anymore. Not only are we blinded to our own sin, but we are incapable of helping our brothers and sisters address their sins either. Far better to assume today that I have a log in my eye, begging the Spirit to allow me to see it for what it is and remove it before it’s too late.